Governments are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by imposing tight restrictions on businesses and ordering people to stay home. Spain is expected to be the latest country to follow Italy’s example by imposing nationwide restrictions. President Donald Trump, days after mingling with people who later tested positive for the virus at his private club in Florida, is now screening anyone who is coming into close contact with him and Vice President Mike Pence for fevers.
These are some of the latest developments Saturday:
SPAIN TO ANNOUNCE EMERGENCY LOCKDOWN
The government of Spain is expected to announce severe restrictions on movement as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. The Associated Press has access to the draft of the battery of measures that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will announce in a nationally televised address. Health authorities in Spain said Saturday that more than 5,700 people there have confirmed coronavirus infections. That’s an increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours. The plan is expected to include the closing of restaurants, bars and nonessential commercial establishments.
US EXTENDS TRAVEL BAN
President Donald Trump says the United States will broaden its European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland, which were initially excluded. The announcement came on a day Britain’s death toll nearly doubled from the day before to 21, and the number of people infected rose to over 1,100 from about 800 the previous day. Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S., but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders. Trump says he’s considering imposing restrictions on travel within the U.S. to areas hit hard by the coronavirus spread. “If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” he said.
FRANCE TO CLOSE RESTAURANTS, CAFES, NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS
French Prime minister Edouard Philippe says France is shutting down all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and retail shops that are not essential, starting from Sunday, to face the acceleration of the spreading of the virus in the country. Groceries stores, pharmacies, banks and other public services including transports were allowed to remain open, he said Saturday. French authorities had already ordered this week the shutting down of all schools, banned gatherings of more than 100 people and advised people to limit their social life. Philippe said these measures were “not well implemented.” More that 4,500 cases have been confirmed in the country, including 91 deaths.
DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO RISE IN ITALY
Deaths from the new coronavirus are continuing to rise in Lombardy, Italy’s hardest-hit region. Lombardy health official Giulio Gallera said there were 145 more deaths of patients with COVID-19 since a day earlier. He added that 1,064 patients were in intensive care in Lombardy’s struggling hospitals. Lombardy’s hospitals will be the latest to try using a drug now prescribed for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis to treat inflammation from pneumonia in gravely ill COVID-19 patients. Apart from China, Italy has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 17,000.
NEW YORK STATE REPORTS ITS FIRST DEATH
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state has reported its first death in the coronavirus pandemic, an 82-year-old woman who had been previously hospitalized with emphysema. Cuomo said Saturday that she died the day before at a hospital in New York City. More than 500 New Yorkers have been officially been diagnosed so far with COVID-19. But Cuomo says he believes perhaps tens of thousands of New Yorkers already have the disease. The true number of people with the virus in the state is unknown because testing is still being done across the U.S. on a very limited basis.
TRUMP GETS TESTED, IS TAKING PRECAUTIONS
After days of resistance, President Donald Trump said Saturday that he has been tested for the coronavirus. Trump spent time last weekend at his private club in Florida with at least three people who have now tested positive. The president said his results aren’t in yet. The White House also announced that it is now conducting temperature checks on anyone who is in close contact with the president and Vice President Mike Pence as a precaution. A representative from the White House physician’s office took the temperature of members of the media who were at the White House for a briefing. A reporter with a suspected elevated temperature was not allowed in, and a spokeswoman for Pence said the reporter’s temperature registered above 100.4 degrees. Public health officials say people with a cough and elevated temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher are deemed concerning.
APPLE CLOSES STORES FOR TWO WEEKS
Tech giant Apple is closing its stores outside of China for two weeks and will only sell online as part of efforts to fight the global coronavirus pandemic. CEO Tim Cook tweeted Saturday that Apple would temporarily close those stores until March 27. Cook also said that Apple’s stores in China have all now reopened. Apple’s online stores remain open. The company temporarily shut its 42 stores in mainland China at the height of the country’s outbreak.The iPhone maker has more than 500 retail stores worldwide, with about half in the United States.
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